Foodbuzz Challenge #4: Picture Perfect


This week I received a review copy of culinary legend Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook release, Around My French Table. As soon as I spied the front cover I began to drool, and knew immediately that should I make it to round four of Project Food Blog that this would be the recipe I would choose for my post. Tasked with documenting (through photos) a recipe that instructs readers in a step-by-step format, I wanted to create something that was visually interesting and made people want to leap into their kitchens and make it for themselves. I’m happy to say that I did advance to round four (thanks for all the support!), and that I did make the cover recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s book. Only thing left is to find out if my post is inspiring enough to have you try the recipe!

The recipe pictured on the cover was for chicken in a pot (click here for the recipe). The whole concept of cooking a chicken in a casserole dish sealed tight with a flour and water dough mixture placed around the edges of a Dutch oven, was a technique I had never seen before let alone attempted. I was intrigued!

First order of business – preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

While oven is preheating, peel half of a preserved lemon. This proved to be embarrassingly challenging and in the end I had to resort to brute force in order to pop the lemon out of the jar. NOTE: a preserved lemon (or citrons confits) is a Moroccan and Middle Eastern specialty, and involves making deep slits into lemons which are subsequently marinated in a brine of salt and lemon juice for a minimum of three weeks.

Chop the lemon rind into small pieces. Next, bring water and sugar mixture to a boil and add the lemon peel. Cook for 1 minute; drain and set aside.

Okay now it’s time to prep all that veg!

This includes chopping celery into 1 inch pieces…

…separating (but not peeling) 4 heads of garlic…

…and peeling 16 mini white onions. Yes – peeling those lil’ itty bitty onions are just as much of a pain as it looks! But they are definitely worth the effort as they become lovely and caramelized and just pop in your mouth.

Next, peel and slice carrots and yams into equal sized chunks, approximately 2 inches.

Whew – veggies are prepped and ready to go!

Sauté vegetables in Dutch oven over high heat until starting to brown. I found it useful to do this in two batches which was more time consuming but ensured all veggies browned nicely.

Remove vegetables from the heat and stir in herbs and reserved lemon peel.

Heat a skillet over high heat and add the chicken, browning on all sides and seasoning with salt and pepper as it cooks. I used a pair of tongs to turn the chicken which worked quite well.

Nestle the browned chicken in the Dutch oven, surrounding it with the vegetables. Mix together the chicken broth, white wine and olive oil mixture and pour over the chicken and veggies. Set aside.

Mix the flour and hot water to make a pliable dough.

Using your hands, roll the dough on flour dusted surface into a rope that is long enough to go around the entire rim of the Dutch oven. If the dough breaks, simple press back together.

Press lid into dough to seal the pot. Place in the oven and bake for 55 minutes. NOTE: being sceptical that a chicken this large (4 lbs) could cook in such a short period of time, I left it for longer and the chicken turned out to be overdone. Luckily the sealed pot technique kept the meat moist, but the bottom line here folks is to trust Dorie. She knows what she’s talking about!

Okay at this point it is important to do three things:

First, arrange for take-out food for the kids because earlier in the day you decided to take them to the pumpkin patch and didn’t get home till much later than planned and apparently an hour is just too long for them to wait.

Next, clean up the disaster in the kitchen. If you have no mess to clean up because you are one of those people who are always annoyingly vigilant about cleaning up as you go, kindly keep this information to yourself.

Now take the remainder of the white wine and pour yourself a nice big glass. It’s well deserved!

And finally, be sure to take a moment to put your feet up and relax. Gotta love recipes that allow for some downtime!

Once the chicken is done, Dorie recommends using a screwdriver to help pry the lid free. However, I found the lid lifted easily on its own. Be careful not to get burnt by the steam when breaking the seal, and be prepared for intoxicating smells to waft through your kitchen. No need to sound the dinner bell…they will all come running to the table!

We carved the chicken in the kitchen and brought the pot of vegetables to the table, sopping up the delicious sauce with chunks of fresh bread.

This meal is the epitome of comfort food. The simple flavours let the ingredients speak for themselves, the casual nature of the meal allowing guests to connect with their food in a true spirit of togetherness and camaraderie.

Simple. Tasty. Perfect.

In celebration of CookThatBook’s one year anniversary, next week I will be giving away a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table” to one lucky reader! Stay tuned for more details. Book courtesy of Thomas Allen & Son, Ltd.

Follow Project Food Blog for contest updates and to find out who will be the next Food Blog Star! Voting for the fourth round is from October 11-14. (NOTE: you will need to create a Foodbuzz profile in order to vote. This just takes a minute so please don’t be deterred!)